Author Archives: mike

Nannyism: It’s for the Military, too

So if the military trusts you with some of the most deadly and destructive weapons known to man, the logical thought would be that they would also trust you to handle yourself around alcohol, right?

Wrong.

“For all other 2ID Soldiers who choose to consume alcohol, they must do so responsibly at all times. Specifically, they will moderate their alcohol consumption and not consume alcohol to the extent that their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above .10.”

Yes, you heard correctly. The Army’s 2nd Infantry Division (responsible for most of the U.S. Army personnel in South Korea) has mandated that no one under its command will have a BAC above .10%. Ever.

What is the reason given for this drastic action?

“All 2ID Soldiers must be in a high state of readiness and must be able to respond immediately and decisively in order to perform their armistice and wartime fighting mission. Irresponsible alcohol consumption is harmful to that readiness and detracts from training. Furthermore, alcohol-related incidents by 2ID Soldiers can have strategic consequences and can jeopardize the important relationships we maintain with the Republic of Korea. Furthermore, there has been shown to be a direct correlation between alcohol abuse and misconduct (e.g., sexual assault offenses). Therefore, we must ensure that irresponsible alcohol consumption does not deter 2ID from accomplishing its armistice training or wartime fighting mission, and does not endanger the lives and well-being of 2ID Soldiers and others. We must also establish and maintain a Warrior ethos that deglamoratizes alcohol and promotes early identification and treatment of abusers.”

Makes perfect sense to me. Actually, if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that this policy is an attempt to help cut down on the number of underage drinkers. Of course, this raises the question of why we have the idiotic 21 year old age limit on alcohol in the first place, but that’s a battle for a different day. The bottom line is that the 2ID has decided that the solution to underage drinking is to punish everyone and try to control soldiers’ behavior when they are off duty. I wonder how many otherwise good soldiers careers are going to be adversely affected when they blow a .11% BAC?

In any case, this is just the latest in a series of actions by the U.S. military to increasingly control the off-duty lives of its personnel. My favorite is the USAF’s “Culture of Responsible Choices.” It’s a sad commentary on our culture that even the military has been affected this deeply by nannyism.

A Step Back

I put up this video over at my blog, it’s well worth a look if you’re interested in the idea of Web 2.0

The reason I post it is that I think it’s important every now and again for us to all step back and fully appreciate just how revolutionary this medium that we all take part in is. A group of like minded people ranging from coast to coast and all points in between are able to communicate to an audience of thousands from around the world. It seems like something we would take for granted, but not even 10 years ago this type of a communication tool barely existed.

So as you’re reading this blog tonight, by all means, engage in all forms of spirited political debate. But take a moment to consider how amazing it is that we’re able to have this discussion at all.

The Road to Serfdom (in cartoons!)

A few days ago Adam wrote about F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom.” In that post, he linked to an online copy of the piece. Included in that online copy was a set of cartoons that laid out, very briefly, the thrust of the piece. I stumbled across the same cartoons on a separate site. (I would give a hat tip, but I can’t remember who put me on to the cartoons. If it was you, just let me know.)

In any case, it doesn’t take very long to read but it definitely gets the point across.

More from Manassas Park

I’ve written before about the plight of the David Ruttenberg and his bar. There’s been some new developments, and the police look worse than ever. Radley Balko’s Cliff’s Notes version: “David Ruttenberg hires a guy named Tom Kifer to head up security for his bar. Kifer is specifically charged with keeping drug activity out of Rack n’ Roll. Ruttenberg later finds out that Kifer is working for the police, who have instructed him to set up drug deals in the bar, which they then plan use against Ruttenberg, who would later lose his license for — wait for it — failing to stop drug activity in his pool hall.”

What is one supposed to do in this situation? You know there is drug activity going on in your bar, so you hire bouncers specifically charged to deal with that drug activity. You install sophisticated security devices to help with the problem. You even go so far as to invite police into the bar, because as a good citizen, you want to cooperate with the law. The police repay that cooperation by setting you up and coopting your security in order to help them implicate you in a drug deal. Where do you have left to turn?

This whole story stinks to high heaven, and it looks like it’s about to blow wide open. Make sure to check out Radley Balko’s site and Black Velvet Bruce Li for further updates.

Thus Always to Tyrants

The entire population in the village of Fago, Spain is a suspect in the mayor’s murder. And understandably so:

“There is no shortage of contenders. During his 12 years in office, the mayor, a member of the conservative Popular Party and the owner of the village’s only guest house, had been involved in almost four dozen individual court cases with homeowners in Fago.

He had taken out injunctions to prevent people making home improvements and closed down a bed and breakfast because it competed for business with his own establishment.

Mr Grima had even incurred the wrath of the parents of the only two children living in the village by banning basketballs and shooting hoops in the village’s only flat area – the central plaza.

The most public battle in recent times came about after the mayor imposed taxes of almost 400 euros a month on outdoor tables at Fago’s only drinking establishment – the Casa Moriega bar – an amount locals consider high for an isolated village which attracts only a modest number of visitors in summer.” (h/t: Irish Trojan)

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Our “Shadow Government”

I suspect these three items are related; I leave it to you to figure out how.

Exhibit A –

Most Americans Want Public Policies to Prevent Obesity.”

An excerpt: “In addition, 73 percent said they’d support government incentives for companies that reduced the cost of health insurance for employees who had healthy lifestyles and shed extra pounds. Seventy-two percent said they would support government policies requiring insurance companies to cover obesity treatment and prevention programs.”

So, our society’s solution to obesity is to have the government coerce and force companies to help their employees deal with the issue.

Exhibit B –

Scott Ott’s serious letter discussing dependence on the government in response to a misunderstanding about a Katrina satire he wrote. A taste: “Over the decades, we have ceded power, authority and responsibility to the federal government far beyond anything envisioned or desired by our founders. As a result, instead relying on our own intelligence, resources and ability to work with others in our communities to solve problems, we have turned to Washington D.C..

This is not a matter of ‘blaming the victim’, because the victim has become so immersed in this twisted view of human life that he cannot see what has happened. The federal government’s dehumanizing effect has torn up neighborhoods, torn apart families and turned brave, capable people into compliant recipients of redistributed wealth.

The problem is that the morsels of that wealth never provide enough to do anything other than keep folks in a perpetual state of dependence upon the State. Even if those morsels became chunks big enough to choke a horse, the dependency would remain. The federal government has become not only the safety net, it is everything from the crib blanket to the casket lining.”

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it.

Finally, Exhibit C –

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

-Lazarus Long, Robert Heinlein, Time Enough For Love.

If I had $2,500…

…Would I spend it on this?

“This historical project will consist of forty-six titles spanning the entire writing career of Robert A. Heinlein. The Virginia Edition will contain all of Heinlein’s novels and short stories. It will also include all of his non-fiction titles along with the vast majority of his interviews, social commentaries, speeches and articles. Finally the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust has agreed to allow us to include several volumes of Heinlein’s letters and personal correspondence.”

Ah, if only I wasn’t a poor college student.

Incidentally, I have a rich uncle in Somalia who has millions of dollars but he has been displaced by the recent war. He needs about $2,500 to get the money out of the country. Please leave a comment with your bank account number if you wish to be rich beyond your wildest dreams.

h/t: John Scalzi via Chap.

Latest Police Harassment

Radley Balko has the skinny on a series of recurring harassing actions undertaken by the police force against the proprietor of a local bar (including a 90 person SWAT-team raid under the auspices of an “alcohol inspection”) in Manassas Park, VA. The story seems almost too absurd to be true, as the harassment has gone on for over 2 years, and it begs the question why. Of course, money and local big shots are involved, along with an interesting gambling twist, and the possibility of a personal vendetta. The courts have denied said proprietor legal recourse, at least for now. Make sure to read the other posts that he links to, especially the video of the SWAT raid.

More here.

Update: Be sure to check out the comments as Neil Ruttenberg, the father of David Ruttenberg (the proprietor), has left one with quite a bit more information about the court case.

What a Real Totalitarian Government Looks Like

While things are by no means perfect with our current system of government, it’s important to keep perspective and remember that it could be far far worse.

China ‘executes dam protester’

The government took a man, held a secret trial, held the appeals in secret, and executed him in secret. And before I hear comparisons to U.S. counter-terrorism laws, when I say secret I’m talking about his lawyer going to ask about progress in the case and the possibility of appeal and being told that the “appeal” had already happened and his client had been executed.

The man’s crime? Taking part in a protest against a new dam project and then allegedly killing a police officer.

Crossed the line yet?

Maybe this will be enough for those who still support the war on drugs to realize that something needs to change. Follow the links, because there’s a lot of good info, but the short version is that the U.S. Government stood idly by and let an innocent man get brutally murdered because a man involved with the murders was an informant working for ICE. Lest anyone think the murder was a one-time aberration, the informant has been linked to 12 other murders. In fact, since he was wearing a wire, his handlers were able to hear the actual murders being committed. Then the government covered everything up and canned a senior DEA agent who had the gall to speak out against the government being complicit in murder. This senior DEA agent described the informant as a “homicidal maniac.”

I’ll let the agent have the last word: “This situation is so bizarre that even as I’m writing to you it is difficult for me to believe it. I have never before come across such callous behavior by fellow law enforcement officers.”

Just more collateral damage in the war.

“Too Bad”

That was the response today from someone when I was discussing the recent shooting of the 18 year old over armed robbery.

I was literally speechless. In his mind, I guess, the actions of committing armed robbery completely justify the shooting death of the 18 year old by the police because he “was a criminal.” And after all, if he just had the common sense to avoid answering the door without carrying something in his hand, this might all have not happened. We should consider ourselves lucky, though. If the OTHER man in the house, a friend of the deceased, had answered the door, we might have an actual innocent person dead. Fortunately, this time it was only a criminal.

I have to say that I’m a little depressed, because I don’t even know how to go about changing a mind like that. Someone who sees absolutely nothing wrong with the death of an 18 year old who was brandishing a deadly PS3 controller at police is someone who’s almost beyond the point of debate.

Of course, the police could stop acting like an occupying force, breaking doors down and brandishing automatic weapons, and actually do its job: to protect and serve their citizens. But that would put officers’ lives at risk, and we can’t have that. It’s understandable, though. There are criminals out there, dangerous criminals, criminals that brandish game controllers, and we can’t rest until each and every one of them is behind bars. Or dead. And I’ll be damned if some innocent deaths stand in the way.

The Drug Slaughter

Radley Balko’s got a list that’s entirely too long over at his place detailing several lesser known examples of the results of the heroic war against “drugs.”

And by “drugs,” I mean of course small time drug users, people who happen to live with drug users, people who live next door to drug users, and people who have the misfortune of having an address that looks similar to that of a drug user. If you happen to be any one of the afore mentioned people, that’s enough to get you killed in the pursuit of eliminating drugs from our society. But hey, it’s the price that has to be paid, right? Because those damn kids can’t be allowed to smoke marijuana and screw up their own lives.

By gum, it worked against alcohol, and it’ll work against drugs. Oh, wait…

Police Precautions

As I wrote about on my personal blog, last weekend myself and a friend were stopped on a curfew violation; the officer then made a rather harassing “joke” about me being a statutory rapist. A “joke” about committing a felony. Anyway, you can read all about the incident here. It’s not really important other than serving as an inspiration for this post. What I want to talk about the unfortunate necessity of being prepared for an encounter with the police.

The police have increasingly become adversarial in any sort of encounter with civilians. You’ve witnessed this countless times before: the police use SWAT teams when serving warrants on non-violent offenders, even the smallest towns have military APCs that their SWAT teams use, police treat any traffic stop involving teenagers as a drug possession in progress (think about how ridiculous that sounds), etc. Things were not always like this, but since the “war” on drugs and the increased criminalization of teenagers, things have changed. And unfortunately, we need to be prepared. Based on several incidents, some involving my friends or relatives, I’ve come to regard any encounter with the police as adversarial. As a result, there are certain precautions that I’ve come to adopt and that I urge you to consider as well. I’m going to appear to focus primarily on teenagers, but that’s only because of my experience and the fact that they seem to get an unfair rap more often than other groups. What I’m talking about has an application for everyone.

First, know your rights. This site has a good roundup (h/t: tomWright). The bottom line is that you have the right to refuse a search, and that Constitutional rights still apply regardless of your age. However, police will do everything in their power (and maybe more) to get you to consent to a search/otherwise waive your rights. Which brings me to my next point. When you have an encounter with the police, they will be adversarial, and they will use threats and intimidation to try and get you to waive your rights. Even the most cool-headed among us can become upset. Because of this, it is important that you run through scenarios in your head before hand. This is good practice in dealing with your response to any sort of stressful situation, but for the purposes of this post we’ll stick to discussing responses to police.

First and most importantly, keep your cool. I know it’s redundant, but it’s important. If you get openly upset, you cede the moral high ground to the police. It sounds tougher than it is, so make sure you are always thinking cool. Next, consider what the police could do to you. What if they start verbally harassing you? What if they physically harass you? Ask to search your car? Threaten you with being arrested? You have to think through every possibility before hand, otherwise you won’t be able to handle them when they come at you in real-life, at real-time. In my particular incident, I was too busy thinking about what I was going to do if the officer asked to search my car that I completely neglected the decision matrix I would work through if the officer started harassing me. Finally, figure out what, if anything, you’re going to do when confronted with the various possibilities of police action. That’s another part of the decision matrix I was talking about. In fact, why don’t we run through a decision matrix right now: Pulled over–officer begins verbally harassing you–you keep your cool and ask for his name and badge number. You have to have all these matrices on hand ready to pull out and execute or modify at a moments notice.

Lastly, something to consider keeping on hand in your car is some sort of recording device. In a lot of cases, the dashboard video camera won’t pick up the audio from a conversation between you and an officer, especially if you remain in your car. In these cases, the complaint report will be your word against the officer’s. It will help to have some sort of hard copy on hand that will back up your side of the story. If you do have a recording device, make sure to tell the officer that you are recording the conversation. Be polite, but firm. Make it clear that you are completely within your rights to record the conversation.

Hopefully these suggestions will help in any future encounters with the police.

Cross-posted at the No Angst Zone

Hi Everybody!

First things first, time for introductions. My name’s Mike. I’m a 19 year old who currently attends Iowa State University, located in lovely Ames, IA, but I’m originally from Omaha, NE. I’m studying to be an Aerospace Engineer, which could explain part of the reason why I blog about politics: it gives me something to do that a) has absolutely nothing to do with calculus, b)I actually enjoy, and c) doesn’t make me want to tear my hair out. Anyway, I’m also in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) and I plan on commissioning as an officer in the USAF and making a career out of it, if they’ll let me. I’m an Eagle Scout, which hopefully tells you quite a bit about me right there. I used to enjoy camping and still do somewhat, but I’m a much bigger fan of climbing, especially 14’ers in Colorado. Better views, and I get to eat real food for dinner and sleep in a bed. I also enjoy hunting upland game birds, although in Nebraska the activity should properly be titled “morning stroll through field with shotgun,” because there never seems to be too many birds.

As you might have guessed, I’m a pretty big geek. I love airplanes and anything to do with them. I’ve gotten laughed at numerous times for referring to an airplane as “sexy.” I also love to read. I used to be real big into military techno-thrillers along the lines of Clancy’s work, but I’ve kind of gotten away from that in recent years, primarily because I unfortunately only have a limited amount of time to read, and so much important stuff to read it in. I have gotten back into reading fiction with some Heinlein, and fully intend on reading everything he’s written sometime in the future, but for now I’ve been focusing on military strategy documents, papers, and books, primarily on fighting counter-insurgency.

But that’s the kind of stuff that belongs over at my home blog, the No Angst Zone (shameless plug #1). What you’re interested in is the libertarian side of things. My early political views were shaped by my Dad who would best be described as a Reagan Republican. While I would whole-heartedly back the GOP if they were to return to the Reagan days, I’m much more to the libertarian side of things than a typical Reagan Republican. A lot of that change happened when I started reading libertarian blogs; Eric’s, Brad’s, Robert’s, T.F.’s, and Perry’s are all some I started reading 2 or so years ago. Since that time I’ve become closely acquainted with Jefferson, Madison, Locke, Smith, Bastiat, and several others, in part thanks to those guys. Sadly, I feel quite alone when it comes to being able to discuss these people and their ideas. I’ve become known as the “crazy libertarian” in my group of friends; I even had one come up to me and ask me to explain to her what exactly libertarianism is.

So. Now that you know about me, what do I believe in? I feel that the Founding Fathers knew what the hell they were doing, so perhaps we should stop trying to interpret what they “really” meant and simply take the Constitution for what it is. I think that the most important Amendment to the Constitution was the 10th. I believe in unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. I believe in the right of people to act aggressively and if necessary violently to protect their unalienable rights, whether from intrusion by other citizens or by the government. I believe in a strong foreign policy. I think such a foreign policy is necessary because we’re currently engaged in a war that has been going on for 30 odd years and that will be going on for another hundred. Finally, I think having a federal drinking age of 21 is one of the stupidest things this government has done in the past 25 years. (Come on, you know that last one was coming; I am a college student, after all.)

Most importantly, I believe in me. And in every other individual out there. The individual is what always has and always will make this country great. It is the right and idea of the individual that must be protected above all else.

Like I said above, my personal blog is the No Angst Zone. It’s a mix of libertarian and military/foreign policy themed material, with some humor thrown in every now and again. Feel free to check it out if you’re interested.

Finally, I’d just like to say thanks to Brad for inviting me to contribute over here. I’m definitely excited to be given the opportunity.

(In case you didn’t get the reference in the title, head on over to wikipedia. I’m a HUGE Simpsons fan.)

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